TRR 181 – Energy Transfers in Atmosphere and Ocean

Investigating the Atmosphere and Ocean is a complex task that needs a combined effort of different scientific fields. Here you find information on our goal and the collaborating partners. Furthermore, we present the goals regarding gender equality and early career support.

Energy does not "vanish"

The energy of a closed system is steady. It is not lost but rather converted into other forms, such as when kinetic energy is transferred into thermal energy or vice versa heat results in a force.

However, this fundamental principle of natural science is often still a problem for climate research. For example, in case of the calculation of ocean currents, where small-scale vortices as well as mixing processes they induce need to be considered, without fully understanding where the energy for their creation originates from. This is similar in the atmosphere, the only difference being that air is moving instead of water. Again, local turbulences can drive larger movements or vice versa waves on a larger scale can disintegrate into small structures. All these processes are important for the Earth’s climate and determine how temperatures will rise in the future.

How exactly the energy transfer between waves, eddies and local turbulences in the ocean and the atmosphere works, often remains unclear. The interdisciplinary project „Energy Transfers in Ocean and Atmosphere“ wants to change this: oceanographers, meteorologists and mathematicians from Hamburg, Bremen and Rostock work closely together to achieve this goal (see participating institutions). The aim is to develop energetically consistent mathematical models and thus enhance climate analyzes and forecast accuracy. The project is funded by the German Research Foundation.

The main applicant parties are Universität Hamburg and Universität Bremen. Special expertise is provided by the Jacobs University, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Helmholtz Center Geesthacht, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven as well as by two research institutes at Universität Rostock: the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde and the Leibniz Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Kühlungsborn.

Universität Hamburg

Universität Hamburg is the largest institution for research and education in the north of Germany. As one of the country's largest universities, it offers a diverse course spectrum and excellent research opportunities.

The University boasts numerous interdisciplinary projects in a broad range of subjects and an extensive partner network with leading institutions on a regional, national and international scale.


The Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN) is a central research center at Universität Hamburg and part of the local network KlimaCampus Hamburg.

Members include oceanographers, meteorologists, marine biologists, geophysicists, geologists, soil scientists, geographers, biogeochemists, economists, social scientists, historians, as well as peace and security researchers, all of whom are actively engaged in climate, environmental, and earth system research. CEN therefore links the natural and social sciences—in research, research-driven education and support for young researchers. The goal is to work together to address overarching scientific issues.

CEN promotes the development and implementation of research projects and supports its members in the acquisition of external funding. The Center provides a forum aimed at educating both academia and the public about the challenges and findings of earth system research.

Participating in this project are the Institute of Oceanography, the Meteorological Institute and the Lothar Collatz Center for Computing in Science.

Universität Bremen

Roughly 23,000 people are currently active as students, teachers, researchers, or employees of the University of Bremen. It has become one of Germany`s eleven top universities of excellence. It is the science center of Northern Germany, renowned for its strengths in the sciences and engineering disciplines, as well as the humanities and the social sciences. The exceptional quality of research in Bremen is due, among other things, to the university’s close collaboration with numerous independent research institutes, both on campus and around the region. Their competence and vitality have attracted more than four hundred research and business ventures to the technology park around campus, creating a nationally recognized hub of high technology.


Research at MARUM has the overarching goal to achieve a better understanding of key processes in the marine environment in order to provide information for sustainable use of the ocean. The research themes are: Ocean and Climate, Geosphere-Biosphere Interactions and Seafloor Dynamics. MARUM studies past and present environmental changes from the coast to the deep sea at a global scale. Processes at and below the seafloor are a special research focus. The second major goal of MARUM is the training of young scientists. Within the framework of the Graduate School GLOMAR (Bremen International Graduate School for Marine Sciences) interdisciplinary training of doctoral students in marine sciences (incl. social sciences and law) is achieved. A third goal is to develop and provide technology and infrastructure for marine research in cooperation with industry. MARUM operates underwater technologies, including two remotely operated vehicles, an underwater drill rig and an autonomous underwater vehicle. MARUM also operates one of the three IODP core repositories in the world and, together with the AWI, the World Data Center for Marine Environmental Sciences (PANGAEA). The fourth goal is the communication of scientific topics to the general public, including special programs for schools.

Participating in this project are the Institute of Environmental Physics and the "Dynamical systems and geometry" group of the mathematics department at Universität Bremen.

Jacobs University

Jacobs University is a private, English-language campus university with the highest standards of research and teaching. Young people from around the globe become citizens of the world with leadership qualities at Jacobs University in Bremen.

Participating in this project is the applied analysis group.

Max Planck Institute for Meteorology

Scientists at the MPI-M investigate what determines the sensitivity of the Earth system to perturbations such as the changing composition of its atmosphere, and work toward establishing the sources and limits of predictability within the Earth system. For that purpose MPI-M develops and analyses sophisticated models of the Earth system. Targeted in-situ measurements and satellite observations complement the model simulations.

Participating in this project are the groups "Atmosphere in the Earth System" and "Ocean in the Earth System".

Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde

The Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research (Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde, IOW) was founded in 1992 on the recommendation of the German Council of Science and Humanities. It succeeded the Institute for Oceanography, Warnemünde, which was the premiere oceanographic research institute of the German Democratic Republic's German Academy of Sciences. Today, the institute is a member of the Leibniz Association (Leibniz-Gemeinschaft, WGL). The institute's facilities are financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Ministry of Education. IOW's research program focuses on coastal oceans and marginal seas, with a particular emphasis on the ecosystem of the Baltic Sea.

Participating in this project is the "Coastal Ocean Physical Process Studies" group.

Leibniz Institute of Atmospheric Physics

The Institute has been founded in 1992 and is member of the research association 'Wissenschaftsgemeinschaft Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (WGL)'. The institute is located near the Baltic Sea resort Kühlungsborn and owns a separate site on the island Rügen, close to Juliusruh. In addition IAP is a major partner of the ALOMAR observatory in northern Norway. As associated institute of the University Rostock it is part of the teaching programme in physics. A total of about 90 persons is employed at IAP.

The Leibniz-Institute is one of the German main centers for Middle Atmosphere research and operates active cooperations with several international research organizations.

Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research

As an internationally respected centre of expertise on polar and marine research, the Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the very few scientific institutions in the world that are equally active in the Arctic and Antarctic. It coordinates German polar research efforts, while also conducting research in the North Sea and adjacent coastal regions in Germany. Combining innovative approaches, outstanding research infrastructure and years of expertise, the Alfred Wegener Institute explores nearly all aspects of the Earth system – from the atmosphere to the ocean floor. In this regard, initiatives to better grasp the climate-related processes on our planet have increasingly taken centre stage.

Participatin in this project are the departments of "Physical Oceanography" and "Climate Dynamics".

Helmholtz Zentrum Geesthacht, Centre for Materials and Coastal Research

Research at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Centre for Materials and Coastal Research (HZG) concentrates on key topics in the realms of science, economy and society:

  • novel lightweight engineering materials
  • functionalised materials in medical technology and in materials research
  • environmentally friendly technologies
  • management of the coastal and marine environment
  • climate of the future

More than 950 people from fifty-seven countries are employed at the HZG’s Institutes of Biomaterial Science, Coastal Research, Polymer Research, Materials Research, and at the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS). The main office is situated in Geesthacht, in the county of Lauenburg. Additional branches are located in Teltow, near Potsdam, as well as in Hamburg and Garching bei München.

The HZG is one of eighteen centres comprising the largest German scientific organisation, the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres.

Participating in the project is the department "Operational Systems".

All participating institutions are proactively dedicated to the implementation of measures aimed at providing a high level of equality to women and men and the improvement of the work-life balance. The TRR 181 contributes to existing programmes but furthermore, provides possibilites for its members.

The overall strategy and success of these measures will be monitored and evaluated by the task group "Early Career and Gender Measures". The task group coordinates the implementation of the measures and develops new concepts to foster gender balance and to support early career scientists.

Members of the task group are Prof. Carsten Eden (Speaker TRR 181), Prof. Jens Rademacher (PI M02), Dr. Janna Köhler (Postdoc W2, Representative for young researchers) and Dr. Maren Walter (Associated Researcher).

Five overarching goals

The TRR 181 concentrates on fi ve overarching goals to promote gender equality:

  1. Increasing female representation at all levels of the academic staff, but especially at the postdoc level,
  2. promoting compatibility of gender issues,
  3. fostering career awareness,
  4. affirming progress, and
  5. detecting shortcomings.

Instruments towards these goals are proactive support of young researchers,  improvement of working conditions through measures such as flextime, home-office and part-time models in particular for caregivers (be it for children or for the elderly), and a facilitation of flexible contracts for postdocs.

Particularly, the postdoc period has been identifi ed as critical for women to continue their scienti c career. Although the gender ratio of PhD students is balanced only 35% of postdocs are female. This ratio is further decreasing with seniority. Members of the CRC will actively encourage female postdocs to pursue their academic career and eventually to establish independent research groups.

Specific measures for gender equality

  • Structures and funding for career development and mentoring. This includes training in proposal writing and fund-raising for scienti c projects, management training, coaching and soft skill courses. We will offer courses for all genders, but also for women speci cally. The latter will be more concentrated on coaching and soft skills to provide female scientists with professional techniques to follow their individual career paths.
  • Workshops for group leaders and PIs: We think that gender measures do not only need to support and educate junior researchers. It is equally important to foster gender equal thinking in the senior levels of research (Professors and group leaders). Hence, the TRR 181 organises workshops regarding gender equality for the PIs of the TRR 181, to provide enhanced communication and management skills as well as improve the awareness for gender topics and conflicts.
  • Encourage female scientists to take the lead and to actively participate in networking events within and outside the scienti c working environment to promote the role of female scientists in the scientifi c community.
  • Providing role models: The TRR 181 strives to attract accomplished female researchers as guest speakers to annual meetings and seminars, who will be asked to lead a speci fic mentoring round with TRR 181 female PhD students.

Measures to promote the compatibility of family and professional life

  • Offering tailored and flexible job contracts, which contain the option to extend the doctoral studies up to one year for scientists with young children. Receiving this extension (partially) depends e.g. on the duration of family part time employment, and the overall progress of the PhD project under these restrictions.
  • Support and promotion of re-integration of scientists during and after maternal/parental leave. TRR 181 scientists on parental leave will be given the opportunity to attend weekly group meetings during their leave, to maintain the contact and keep them updated on the progress made.
  • Support for scientists with families will be provided twofold: Child care facility are run by the universities, and the TRR 181 provides child care covering times outside of the opening hours of day care facilities (i.e. during seminars, or meetings later in the afternoon). In addition, funding to support with the routine workload, i.e., through technical support in the laboratory by additional personnel (student helpers or half time-technicians) to avoid a drop in productivity, and keep the competitiveness of the young researchers will be provided.

All participating institutions are dedicated to innovative graduate and postgraduate education and career planning. Besides supporting graduate students through participation in already existing structured graduate programs and their established measures, the TRR o ffers specifi c support to scientists at the postdoc level, e.g. mentoring of postdocs. Further, all groups will participate in, and benefi t from, funds being reserved for inviting guests, travel support and seminars, retreats or meetings organised in the framework of the TRR 181.

The overall strategy and success of these measures will be monitored and evaluated by the task group "Early Career and Gender Measures". The task group coordinates the implementation of the measures and develops new concepts to foster gender balance and to support early career scientists.

Members of the task group are Prof. Carsten Eden (Speaker TRR 181), Prof. Jens Rademacher (PI M02), Dr. Janna Köhler (Postdoc W2, Representative for young researchers) and Dr. Maren Walter (Associated Researcher).

Postdoc mentoring

The TRR 181 runs an active mentoring program for researchers at postdoc level. The participating institutions agree to encourage the postdocs employed as part of the TRR to choose a mentor whose role would be to provide scienti c and career guidance. To strengthen the cooperation between the locations of
the TRR, these mentors have to be from a di fferent location as the postdoc. Jointly, they can work on developing a career perspective and an individual plan on how to best pursue this goal.

Specifi c measures include assessment interviews, tailor-made courses or trainings, and meetings of mentee networks. As usual, postdoc positions will be advertised internationally. It is anticipated that every postdoc will spend at least one research visit at a foreign collaborating institute.